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African American writers gather, East and West

March 24, 2010 |  3:58 pm

The National Black Writers Conference begins Thursday in New York, where its panels, readings and events will continue through Sunday. Organized by the Center for Black Literature at the City University of New York's Medgar Evers College, the conference is now in its 10 year.

Panels include The Impact of Hip Hop and Popular Culture in the Literature of Black Writers, The Black Writer as Literary Activist and Shifting Identities: The Black Writer in the African Diaspora. Authors Edwidge Danticat, Chris Abani, Tayari Jones, Colson Whitehead and Victor LaValle are among those scheduled to participate.

And while literary conferences aren't known for their musical highlights, the Friday night off-site event -- featuring Talib Kweli, Gil Scott-Heron and Gary Bartz -- promises to raise the bar. A lot.

There will be no music at Long Beach's second annual Black Authors Festival on April 3. It's smaller in scope -- it will be held at the Mark Twain neighborhood library, and take place during a single afternoon. It's in celebration of Long Beach's Black Authors' Day and will kick off National Library Month.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Edwidge Danticat in 1998. Credit: Colin Braley / Reuters